Auckland couple collaborate with Dalai Lama for his first-ever album

A New Zealand artist has done what no other has done before - she's convinced the Dalai Lama to make an album.

The record, titled Inner World, will be released next month to celebrate the Dalai Lama's 85th birthday.

The Dalai Lama's first album featuring some of the most famous Buddhist mantras was created in Junelle and Abraham Kunin's Auckland home studio.

"I still kinda can't believe he said yes to us," Junelle says.

Junelle, a longtime follower of the Dalai Lama, was inspired to make the album after failing to find such music online to relieve stress.

Her first attempt to contact him didn't work, but on a trip to India in 2015 she was successful.

"I just passed a letter to his assistant and was like 'you really have to give this to him - it's really, really, really important'," she says.

Just hours later she got a call saying yes. The pair have spent the last five years completing the album.

It's a combination of their original music and the Dalai Lama's teachings, which he recorded for them.

"It's not just for Buddhist people, it's for everybody," Abraham says - a sentiment that hit home for the pair recently when Junelle's young nephew passed away during the lockdown.

Her family was unable to see him in hospital or mourn him properly due to restrictions on tangi, but the album was able to provide some comfort to Junelle's sister as she played it for her son.

"She wrote and she said 'you know, this album really fulfilled what you really hoped it to do, and it helped us in these last days and then hours of her son's life'," Junelle says.

With all the pain being felt in the world right now, the album's teachings of compassion are more relevant than ever.

"He recorded this five years ago, but we really need this wisdom today," Junelle says.

Inner World will be released on July 6.